Italy got off to a strong start in the Rugby World Cup, securing a bonus-point victory against a resilient Namibia team at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday. While Italy won 52-8, their performance was tested by Namibia’s determination, especially in the scorching sunshine during the first hour of the match.
The 52-8 scoreline marked Italy’s most significant victory against Namibia to date. Tommaso Allan’s impeccable goalkicking added to the luster of Italy’s seven-try win, with three of those tries coming in the final nine minutes as Namibia began to tire.
This was Namibia’s 12th test match in four years, while Italy had played 12 tests in just 10 months. Despite their greater experience, Italy struggled initially due to first-game nerves and Namibia’s tenacious defense.
Italy gained a crucial advantage when Namibia’s hooker, Torsten van Jaarsveld, received a yellow card in the 10th minute, leading to two tries for Italy in the first 15 minutes. However, when both teams were back to full strength, Namibia fought back and managed to score their only try, showcasing an impressive team effort that kept Italy on their toes well into the second half.
Italy’s third converted try came from a lineout maul, bringing the score to 24-8. Finally, Italy’s backline clicked, allowing wings Ange Capuozzo and Montanna Ioane to combine for an exciting try from deep within their own half.
Capuozzo and Ioane had been relatively quiet in the first half due to Namibia’s solid defense and line speed, while Italy’s pack struggled with turnovers and failed to assert dominance.
Despite these challenges, Italy ultimately secured the win, but their performance did not entirely match the impressive scoreline. Italy’s coach, Kieran Crowley, acknowledged that they had some difficulties but expressed satisfaction with the victory, given the conditions and the turnovers.
Van Jaarsveld’s yellow card proved costly for Namibia, as it led to Italy’s early tries. However, when he returned, Namibia managed to score a try of their own. The game lacked a consistent rhythm for both teams, but Italy’s lineout maul proved effective, resulting in a try by Dino Lamb.
Italy’s best try of the match secured the bonus point. Paolo Garbisi and Juan Ignacio Brex created space for right wing Capuozzo, who orchestrated a clever 1-2 play with Ioane, scoring a corner try that delighted the crowd.
The match saw Italy’s superior reserves making an impact, with Hame Faiva, Manuel Zuliani, and Paolo Odogwu scoring tries, all supported by Tommaso Allan’s precise kicking, totaling 17 points.
Namibia’s captain, Johan Deysel, acknowledged Italy’s experience and praised his team’s effort, noting that it was a valuable learning experience.
In the next matches, Namibia is set to face New Zealand, while Italy will have 11 days to prepare for their match against Uruguay.